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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Black Mountain Side (Blu-ray) (2014)

Black Mountain Side (Blu-ray) (2014)

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Released 17-Aug-2016

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Audio Commentary-Cast and crew
Trailer-x 3 for other films
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-(15:39)
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2014
Running Time 98:59 (Case: 121)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Nick Szostakiwskyj
Gryphon Entertainment Starring Shane Twerdun
Michael Dickson
Carl Toftfelt
Marc Anthony Williams
Andrew Moxham
Tim Lyle
Steve Bradley

Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music No music

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, constantly
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     In the wilderness of far north Canada a team of archaeologists led by Jensen (Shane Twerdun) and Francis (Carl Toftfelt) have discovered artefacts and a stone structure which may be 10,000 years old. This is contrary to established North American chronology and an expert, Professor Piers Olsen (Michael Dickson), arrives by helicopter to assess the find but is as confused as the rest of the team. Then, suddenly, team members start to get sick, become extremely violent and self-harm; at the same time communications with the outside world are lost. Team doctor Richard Andervs (Andrew Moxham) cannot work out what is happening until one sick team member commits suicide; the autopsy reveals non-human cephalopod type cells in his body. Some team members start to hear a strange voice and see visions while others become angry, paranoid and murderous. What is the cause? Have they released ancient bacteria that have been dormant in the ice for centuries, an evil god, an alien, or is it all in their minds?

     Black Mountain Side is a suspense / horror film by writer / director Nick Szostakiwskyj that owes a lot to John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) with its isolated group of scientists in a snowy landscape coming up against some unknown force or power. Black Mountain Side features beautiful widescreen images of the Canadian wilderness, with white snow covered slopes, silver / grey trees, log cabins and drifting snow flakes, as well as, at night, the cabins lit and looking small in the darkness. Szostakiwskyj has also made the unusual choice of having no music in the film whatsoever (even during the end credits); instead the sound design features the constant wind, effects such as the sounds of footsteps on the floors overhead or out of sight, the crunch of boots in the snow and a general ominous rumble from the sub-woofer to build uncertainty.

     Black Mountain Side develops slowly allowing us to see the isolated team of men interacting, playing cards and computer games, drinking, showing a comradery that is contrasted with the anger, violence and paranoia of the later scenes. There is nothing wrong with a steady pace during the build-up but the problem with Black Mountain Side is that, while there are sudden bursts of violence, the pace does not pick up as the film moves towards its final act. Throughout the film, Szostakiwskyj and DP Cameron Treblay include long static widescreen images which look beautiful but allied with a number of long dialogue scenes tend to slow the plot down to a crawl. Then, when the bloodshed of the final act occurs, it is over quickly and most of the cast are dead in one long, technically impressive continuous take! It is as if, after the slow build-up, the filmmakers were in a hurry to get most of the cast out of the way.

     For a low budget film, Black Mountain Side looks spectacular although the prosthetics, such as the severed arm, are unconvincing. It is thus a plus that the creature is never seen clearly. The other plus is that this is a horror film with ideas and some interesting things to say about anger, madness, hallucination, reality, imagination, paranoia, deities, and the breakdown of values. Thus, while the film’s pace lets it down, it is beautiful to watch and full of intriguing ideas. Black Mountain Side does also develop tension in places which is, however, not sustained but it does have a bleak, open ended climax that is worth waiting for.

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Transfer Quality


     Black Mountain Side is presented in the original 2.39:1 aspect ratio in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     The video is rather a mixed bag. The exterior snow and forest landscapes with drifting snow look spectacular and the night time exteriors of the lights of the cabins lost in a mass of darkness quite beautiful, with bright lights and stunning blacks. The interiors are another matter. Some look overbright with almost garish colours while shadow detail is indistinct.

     I did not notice any marks or artefacts.

     No subtitles are provided.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     The feature audio is English DTS-HD MA 5.1 plus an audio commentary, Dolby Digital 5.1.

     As noted, the film has no score leaving the audio to the dialogue and natural sounds. The dialogue is clear and centred, the surrounds and rears in frequent use for the wind, bird noises, doors opening and closing, footsteps on the floors and in the snow. The gunshots echo and resonate and there are a number of directional pans; the helicopter arriving and leaving, footsteps overhead or as characters walk out of shot, voices. The subwoofer added an ominous rumble to scenes and depth to the creature voice.

     There are no lip synchronisation issues.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Behind the Scenes (15:39)

     A reasonable but fairly standard behind the scenes featurette using film footage, deleted scenes, concept art, audition footage, still photographs and comments by the writer / director Nick Szostakiwskyj, DP Cameron Tremblay, sound mixer Adam Pisani and five of the cast. It briefly covers the director’s intentions and influences, the genesis of the project, the creature and living and filming in an isolated location. Do not watch this prior to viewing the film as it contains major spoilers!


     Trailers for Listening (1:47), Western Religion (2:36) and Rise of the Footsoldier Part 2 (1:30).

Audio Commentary

     Although not mentioned on the Blu-ray cover, an audio commentary by writer / director Nick Szostakiwskyj, DP Cameron Tremblay, sound mixer Adam Pisani and cast Michael Dickson and Tim Lyle is available through the audio menu (not the extras menu). They sit together talking, drinking beverages, chatting over each other, laughing and joking but provide only a little bit of information about the filming. They identify sets vs location shoot, some errors, the tracking shots, for example. It would have been nice to have some discussion on the decision not to use music in the film, but alas nothing is said.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     There is currently no Region A US or Region B UK Blu-ray of Black Mountain Side listed on although DVDs are listed. One review of the US DVD I read does not mention any extras. It looks as if our Blu-ray is a first.


     Black Mountain Side may not be up to the standard of The Thing, which is no surprise, but the visuals are spectacular and writer / director Nick Szostakiwskyj shows considerable promise and delivers enough ideas to keep things interesting despite the slow pace of the film.

     The video is mixed, the audio interesting given the absence of music. The extras are decent for a low budget independent film.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, August 22, 2016
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE